A case has been made for the use of orature in community theatre practice, in the on-going African Theatre Association (AfTA) 2012 Annual International Conference, taking place at the Hiddingh Campus of the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Professor Austin Ovigue Asagba of the Department of Theatre Arts and Mass Communication, University of Benin, Nigeria, and Dr. Jumai Ewu of the Department of Media, English, Cultural Studies and Performance, University of Northampton, UK, made the presentation in a joint paper, titled, “The Use of Orature in Community Theatre Practice: A Study on Selected Communities in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria.”

The university dons observed that evolving development challenges in countries such as Nigeria are becoming test cases for researchers and development agents worldwide, and that this unfolding reality has become intriguing in areas where vital natural resources like crude oil constitute conflict among multi-cultural groups.

They noted the fact that from existing data, Nigeria has more than 250 ethnic groups with over 350 languages and dialects between them, each group having its own distinct cultural identity, goals and aspirations, adding that the oil-rich Niger Delta region, where there is recurrent agitation between the people and the government as to who controls the resources as well as revenues from oil exploration, is home to over 100 ethnic groups.

According to them, as a result of the above, there is an urgent need to evolve effective and culturally sensitive communication and conscientisation strategies that take into account its particular realities, stressing that orature, which is an admixture of oral tradition and oral literature, is a relevant and effective strategy used by community theatre practitioners and that it is a viable medium of communication and development.

Their paper submitted that the appropriation of orature derived from the local community generates not only transparency and participation in development but the sustenance of indigenous cultural heritage.



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